Just like you, I also don’t like failure. But – honestly speaking – for me, it’s not a big deal… I believe, ‘if you have an attitude to strive for the success, no target is too far’. I will explain with an example.
As I have mentioned in my blog post ‘Blood is thicker than Water’, my schooling was in a Christian church managed Malayalam medium school in our village. Unlike the lower primary classes, I was not a high performing student in high school. Even my total mark percentages are much lesser than the school toppers, I also considered as one of the brilliant students in that batch. Because I was the school topper of Mathematics (only). I had a reasonably good reading habit on various topics, but never been a good textbook reader. I hated mugging of definitions and long – long essays on worthless topics. So, I scored below average marks for History, Hindi and Biology and just average marks for Geography, Malayalam and English. But, I scored above average marks for my favorite subjects like Physics and Chemistry. And of course, I really dominated the Maths. So, my total marks percentage was just above average, between seventy and eighty percentages…
In Kerala, till late 1990’s, the higher study after 10th standard was the universities conducted pre-degree courses (PDC). Since I had scored some ‘not-bad’ marks for the Maths group subjects (Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry), I got an easy admission in First Group (Also known as Maths Group). The atmosphere in college was totally different from that of the school in my village. No uniforms, no restrictions, no painful punishments… but, no caring teachers too. Unlike the school teachers, Professors’ attitude was something like “If you want, you should study. If you have doubt, you ask me. If I have time, I shall answer- otherwise go to library and learn your self”.
The unexpected change of teaching medium was a big challenge for me. The person sat next to me was Mr. Kitt (I have mentioned about him in my past blog “Three Good Friends in Chennai”) He had no problem with the teaching medium, as he was from an English medium school. (Also he was a much better student than I was.)
I attended the classes mechanically, without understanding anything the professors taught. And since I was a boy who keep text book anew (never opened), I have failed two out of five subjects for the first term examination.That was my first academic failure (Not a big thing- later, failure of exams became a usual thing… ). During my school days, I had never been failed even for a single subject. So it became a big shame. I did not know what to do and decided to consult my English professor who liked me very much.
He told me “Mahesh, your problem is common challenge for most of the came-from-Malayalam-medium students. If you put some sincere efforts, you can improve your linguistic skills as good as an English medium student. And remember, Reading – Reading – Reading… It’s the only way to improve.” He paused and added with a smile “Normally nobody put a sincere effort in it… They just study their subjects and earn marks. But, they understand the limitations when they enter in to the profession.”
I decided to learn English language. The collage library usually open at 8:30 am. If I wanted to reach library by that time, I had to start from house at 7:30 am. Only if I reached there by that time, I could spend an hour to read two – three English News Papers. At my home, we used to read Malayalam Daily. When I told the things to my mother-the-best, she was very happy to make Tiffin and breakfast for me before 7 am. (This is one of the many reasons, I consider my mother as the lady behind my all successes –as mentioned in The M-Factor)
From the very next day onwards, I started my “Operation English learning”. The first book I took from the library was “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. But, when I tried to read the book, I lost all Expectations about learning English. When ever I tried to read a single page, I needed to refer the English-Malayalam dictionary at least ten times. My vocabulary was too pathetic even to understand what the book is telling about. I often felt, better trying to swim across The English Channel than learning English. But, like King Robert Bruce, I was also not ready to give up. I returned Dickens‘ ‘Great Expectations’ to the library, but I had some the ‘real great expectations’ about my English learning. I took three kids books- one nursery rhymes, Cinderella stories and ‘The Adventures of Tom Swayer’. Seeing these books, other students laughed at me. But, I was shameless, and nothing could stop my enthusiasm to learn. My target was much more important to me than the silly ego of ‘What the others shall think me’. Because, I knew, first of all I need to build up the basics. ‘Strong foundation is the necessary thing for a big Building.’
The fifteen years old boy was not ready to give up… And now, my English is reasonably good. At least, I can communicate well to others.
Even I have a lot of limitations in life, I am happy now – in terms of my achievements in my less than thirty years living on this planet. When look back to my past life, I can find a lot of reasons to be depressed. But, I don’t want that. I count ‘what I have’- not ‘what I lose’. I don’t think I have reached my ultimate destination. I believe, there is no such final destination for anything. Life is going-on in a flow, as mentioned in the concept of randomness – it’s just happening. The events come to our life according to the chaos theory. We can’t say something happening in our life is final. Everything happen is a continuation of another one and the reason of some others. So I’m still trying for continuous improvement, which will help me not to be a big loser in future. If I sit idle, gradually I will lose the feeling of comfort.
If you are cheerful, the peoples will like you. But, when you start to complain about your environments, they will move away and you will be isolated. This attitude makes me a cheerful person. That’s why I told you, failure is not a big deal for me. I am positive and believe- behind every big success there should be a story of die hard striving. In fact, the ‘Go-getter‘ attitude and the ‘self driven striving‘ are the parameters to differentiate a successful man and a loser. The life is too short and we have no time for sitting idle and cursing the fate. If we really want some thing, the only option is just ‘Go for that‘. Let the others decide how successful our efforts were…
So my dear reader, you decide – how successful I am, in the effort to learn good English…
P.S: Now I have a copy of “The Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens in my personal library- in the group of very special & memorable books.